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Issue 21: Uyghur Parents Prevented From Teaching Religion to Children

Issue 21: Uyghur Parents Prevented From Teaching Religion to Children

World Uyghur Congress, 5 June 2018

In 2016, renewed attention was paid to the role of parents and the relationship with their children in terms of religion. In contrast to previous years, the Chinese government has been much more overt in its public policy with regards to the ability of parents to pass on religious customs to their children. This falls directly in line with the targeting of children as a means of curtailing the influence of Islam for future generations.

Parents were specifically targeted with regulations that officially came into effect on 1 November 2016, stating that parents cannot, “organise, lure or force minors into attending religious activities.” Additionally, parents are prohibited from promoting “hardline beliefs” or to wear specific clothing or other symbols.

These proscribed activities are then to be regulated by the public, with authorities stating that, “Any group or person has the right to stop these kinds of behaviours and report them to the public security authorities.” As with many other laws that have come into effect regulating religious practice, much of the wording is particularly vague and open to interpretation by state authorities.

Relatedly, reports from the region revealed that school children have been asked about specific details of their family’s religious habits including who in their family prays, who wears a hijab, and who keeps a beard. Reports indicated that the practice was undertaken in Aksu and Hotan prefectures and the students were required to fill out official questionnaires linking family members to activities related to Islam. A teacher reportedly told Radio Free Asia that the questionnaire included questions like: “Is there anybody in your house who prays? Is there anybody who wears a hijab or has a beard? What kind of religious activities do they conduct? What kind of religious books are there in your house?”